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Nellie [Forrest] Dunville

nellie forrest dunvilleNellie (Forrest) Dunville was the daughter of James Forrest, and she learned to play pipes from her father and others in the Prince Albert Girls Pipe Band. Nellie decided in 1942 to join the Canadian Women's Army Corps, and she and a friend took the train from Prince Albert to Regina to sign up. Sometime after that, the CWAC Pipe Band, led by P-M Liilian Grant, came through Saskatchewan on a cross-Canada tour, and Nellie was convinced to sign up. She played with the band across Canada, until illness took her out of the lineup.


At right, Nellie in her CWAC uniform, and below, the CWAC Pipe Band on parade. Photos from Saskatchewan Folklore Magazine, Fall 2004.


Here is an article written by Nellie for the Fall 2004 editrion of "Saskatchewan Folklore".


Article on SK female pipers in the CWAC Pipe Band, 1940s


nellie forrest cwac

James Forrest

jim forrest veteransJames Forrest was born in Banffshire, Scotland at the end of the 1800s, and he arrived in Saskatchewan before World War I, after having been in Australia, Fiji, and Hawaii. He came to Saskatchewan to farm, and when war broke out he tried to enlist at Moose Jaw, but was informed there was no kilted regiment for him. So, he went back to Scotland, joined his old regiment, and ended up on the battlefields of Flanders with the Gordon Highlanders, where he was wounded. Jim Forrest married his Scottish love and returned to Canada, eventually settling in Prince Albert, where he farmed, worked at the PA Jail, and was part of the Veteran's Guard during World War 2. All throughout his life, the pipes were a mainstay of his life, and he taught pipers, organized pipe bands, and eventually passed on his love of piping to his family.

James published an autobiographical novel in 1967 called Hamish McIver, the Gregarious Immigrant [Carlton Press Inc., New York], and he also published a collection of his poetry called Rhymes of the Wandering Piper. The SPBA is very grateful to James' son-in-law Stan Dunville for loaning copies of the publications for us to see.

The Prince Albert Historical Society has gone through their holdings, and provided information on Jim Forrest and his activities, including this letter, which was written by his daughter,, Nellie (Forrest) Dunville about his work at the PA Jail. In the photo at right, Jim is in the uniform of the Veteran's Guard. Here you can see him in the uniform of the Prince Albert Jail.





forrest book coverforrest book back

The book describes the life adventures of "Hamish McIver," in reality James Forrest. In the Foreward, noted Saskatchewan educator Hugh R. Thompson says, "For those many readers who can never meet the author my sympathy, for Mr. Forrest lives, as he writes, in a simple, honest, direct fashion enjoying the good things of life, facing difficult times and, above all, seeing himself and other members of Homo Sapiens with a wry puckish sense of humour that makes this tale altogether a delightful experience and a lasting monument to the final good in all things."


rhymes cover


This little paperback, like his novel, was dedicated to his wife. In it are poems that he wrote about many of the defining experiences of his life: leaving Scotland, life in Australia, World War 1, farming on the prairies, the Veteran Guard, the Prince Albert Jail, and of course many poems written for friends and acquaintances, and to capture stories of the day. Below we have reproduced the poem he wrote about piping.




The Beaton Family, St. Andrew's/Benbecula

Beaton family500The Beaton family lived and played in the Moosomin area, at Scottish settlements called St. Andrew's and Benbecula. This photo was kindly provided by piper Jamie Simpson, a descendant of the Beatons, who grew up in the Dauphin [MB] Pipe Band.

Pictured are: Norman Beaton, along with Gordon, Ian, Alex and Malcolm.

The following quote is from "A Short History of the Pioneer Scotch Settlers of St. Andrews, Saskatchewan" by James N. MacKinnon, and describes Norman's parents and family, and their settlement in St. Andrews.

See article.

The following notes on Norman Beaton are taken from the pipe music book Along the Road.

Norman Beaton

Norman Beaton came to Saskatchewan around 1885 from Griminish, Benbecula at about the age of three. His father was from the Scottish mainland, and had married Christina McRury, a sister of the well-known Gaelic scholar the Rev. John McRury of Skye. Norman married a local Wapella girl in Saskatchewan, and spent most of his adult life in Moosomin, Red Jacket, and later Brandon, Manitoba. As well as being a piper and composer, Norman was well-known for the “Beaton pipe bag” and was thought to be the inventor of the “swan neck” pipe bag. Norman’s tune Mrs. Mary Beaton was written for his wife.

beaton bag


The making of "Beaton" pipe bags was taken over by P-M Bill MacLeod of Winnipeg, later Pine Falls, Manitoba. Bill or "Willie" MacLeod was Norman's son-in-law, and served as pipe-major of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada [Winnipeg] during World War II. Many prairie pipers played these durable, cowhide bags made by Norman and Willie, and Willie also made seasoning to go with them--a traditional mixture of honey and glycerine. The bag pictured here was made in 1970 [that's Willie's writing on the bag] and was replaced in 2007.

Jimmy Walker [1935-2008]

This brief tribute appeared on pipes|drums at the time of his death.

Jim WalkerThe Saskatchewan pipe band community lost one of its best this week as James “Jimmy” Walker died at the age of 73. Jimmy Walker was an imposing figure in Saskatoon for many years, and he was responsible for teaching many fine drummers.

Born in 1935 in Fife, Scotland, Jimmy grew up drumming in the Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band, and won many solo drumming prizes as a young man there.  He was one of a number of leading Scottish players who were recruited to play in the Powell River Pipe Band with his life-long buddy Geordie Pryde, who was the L-D at Powell River. Jimmy was one of the key players in that very successful corps, and continued to win solo prizes on this side of the Atlantic.

Jimmy left Powell River and came to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to work with the Saskatoon Fire Department, and there fell in with P-M Hugh Fraser and the Saskatoon Police Pipe Band and the North Saskatchewan Regiment Pipes & Drums. He was L-D for those bands for many years, and also an instructor to the Saskatoon Boys Pipe Band, the [Moose Jaw] Sprigs O’ Heather, and at summer schools at Fort San. Jimmy Walker loved pipe bands and drumming, and he inspired many young players over the years with his own ability, and also with his teaching.

His best-known students include his son, Jim Walker Jr., who played with the Saskatoon Boys Pipe Band, the Saskatoon Police, and was also the L-D of the Edmonton Scottish Pipe Band with P-M Neil Dickie. In the Late 1980s, Jim Jr. moved to Scotland, and took up playing with Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band, where he was L-D for some time. He was also the drummer for Celtic band “Ceol Beag” and makes his living teaching and performing various kinds of drumming.

Another student of Jimmy’s was John Fisher, currently the L-D for the new Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band, and a world-renown drummer in both mainstream and pipe band circles. John’s many drumming accomplishments are well known, from being L-D of City of Victoria and the Frasers, to being a member of Alex Duthart’s drum corps in some of its best years.

Jimmy’s long-time students in Saskatoon carry on the tradition of teaching and performing with many Saskatoon pipe bands, and his legacy will continue there. On behalf of all Saskatchewan pipe band enthusiasts, our condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends.

Andy Mackintosh, Saskatoon


mackintoshEnclosed is a picture that may be of some interest. It was taken on Christmas Day 1944, and the piper is my father, A.(Andy) Mackintosh. He grew up on The Heights of Fodarty, Invernesshire, and went to school in Strathpeffer. He served in the merchant navy from 1937 to 1947 and some of his ships were the T.S.S. City of Edinburgh, S. S. Antonio and the Cordillera. He spent most of the war years travelling the North Atlantic, however based on the picture, must have been in some warmer climates part of the time, possibly near Montevideo. After emigrating to Canada in 1947 he played with the 10th Artillery, Regina, Saskatchewan and later the 2nd North Saskatchewan Regiment in Saskatoon. He took his piping lessons from PM. Alexander Ross, Willie’s brother. I remember him talking of Ross, MacLennan, Burgess and Reid.

[The above was from a letter written to and published in The Piping Times. It was written by Dave Mackintosh, a long-time piper from the Saskatoon area.]


 Christmas1944 sm


Click for larger image | Another photo of the same dance

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